More than 400 attendees were encouraged to “Press On” in ministry during the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia (SBC of Virginia) Annual Homecoming on November 8-9 at The Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, VA.
The SBC of Virginia’s yearly meeting had to be adjusted due to Covid-19 related limitations, but the convention was still able to convene in person with certain safety precautions (as well as streaming online to more than 250 unique online viewers and many more on Facebook) to worship, fellowship, conduct business, and hear messages under the theme of the need to “Press On” in ministry to our neighbors and to the nations.
Brian Autry, executive director for the SBC of Virginia, opened Sunday night by speaking about the need to “Press On” despite the challenging times churches have faced this past year. Autry outlined that we must press on because there is a great pandemic of sin, there is a Great Physician who saves, and there is a great mission for souls.
“We press on because we always have the presence of God empowering us and encouraging us and compelling us,” Autry said.
After the opening message by Autry, the SBC of Virginia continued its “Press On” emphasis by taking time to celebrate 175 years of ministry for the International Mission Board (IMB). Before an address by keynote speaker IMB President Paul Chitwood, Autry and convention officers presented a $175,000 gift in honor of IMB’s anniversary on behalf of the SBC of Virginia churches.
Brian Autry, executive director of the SBC of Virginia, encourages churches to “Press On” during the SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming.
“International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood preaches during the first night of the SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming.
Chitwood expressed his gratitude for the Gospel partnership with the SBC of Virginia helping support the “uninterrupted,” ministry of the IMB despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m overwhelmed this evening when I think about the generosity of Virginia Southern Baptists,” Chitwood said. “Thank you for this investment as well as your ongoing investment through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. I praise the Lord for where the Lord is taking us together as Southern Baptists to do our part in fulfilling the Revelation 7:9 vision.”
Messengers voted by affirmation to re-elect all officers who served in 2020 based upon the recommendation of the SBC of Virginia Executive Board. Officers re-elected include Allen McFarland, senior pastor at Calvary Evangelical Baptist Church in Portsmouth, president; Monty Guice, senior pastor of Swift Creek Baptist Church in Midlothian, first vice president; Vernig Suarez, pastor of Iglesia Bautista del Camino in Norfolk, second vice president; and Jim Drake, senior pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Bluefield, secretary.
Upon recommendation, messengers approved the proposed Ministry Investment Plan of $10 million for the 2021 fiscal year, which is the same amount as the 2020 Ministry Investment Plan.
Of the total adopted Ministry Investment Plan amount, $9.6 million comes from SBC of Virginia churches giving related to Cooperative Program contributions. The adopted plan will be distributed with 51 percent going to national Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program Ministries and 49 percent being distributed to state level SBC of Virginia Cooperative Program Ministries. This is the same percentage of allocation as last year.
Messengers approved 22 new churches into SBC of Virginia fellowship, taking the total number of affiliated churches to 790. Messengers and guests also celebrated 14 new church plants birthed from SBC of Virginia churches during 2020.
Keynote speakers for the second day of the Homecoming included President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Danny Akin, SBC of Virginia President Allen McFarland, and Pastor Bruce Frank from Biltmore Baptist Church, NC. Teaching Pastor Charles Billingsley from Thomas Road Baptist Church shared about his personal experience with Covid-19 and led in worship throughout Monday.
SBCV churches present $175,000 gift to IMB for 175 years of ministry. Pictured from left to right are IMB President Paul Chitwood, IMB trustee and LibertyLive Missions Pastor Ken McLemore, First Baptist Church of Suffolk Pastor Thurman Hayes, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Pastor Joey Anthony, Staples Mill Road Baptist Church Pastor Jim Booth, Calvary Evangelical Baptist Church Pastor and SBCV President Allen McFarland, and SBCV Executive Director Brian Autry the SBC of Virginia.
SBCV churches loaded backpacks with school supplies, food, and the Gospel message for impoverished children in Virginia and dropped them off during the SBC of Virginia Annual Homecoming.
Additionally, several SBC of Virginia pastors encouraged attendees with the theme of pressing on. Those speakers included, Stan Parris, senior pastor at Franklin Heights Baptist Church in Franklin Heights; Brian Collison, senior pastor, Pillar Church of Woodlawn in Alexandria; Charles Wilson, pastor at The Hill Church in Roanoke; Fisseha Tesfaye, pastor, Fullness of Christ Church in Alexandria.
Other noteworthy activities from the Homecoming include churches collecting 2125 backpacks that will be provided to impoverished children this Christmas. The SBC of Virginia Spanish ministry had a dozen messengers in person with others joining online.
Next year’s Annual Homecoming is slated for November 7-9 at Liberty Live Church in Hampton, VA and will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the SBC of Virginia.